Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mandarin Grill - The Experience Tasting Menu

It's not very often mum and dad try tasting menus in Hong Kong restaurants, but last night was an exception. This tasting menu from Mandarin Grill came highly recommended by Auntie P and they decided to give it a go.

The Tasting Menu

Wonderful aftertaste which lingers forever 回味無窮

2004 Insignia from Joseph Phelps

Flower Pot

Summer (soup in a packet)

Turbot (in a seashore)

Beef Stroganoff (in a can)

Spring Garden

Petit Fours

Recent photos

Art Exhibition in Time Square

Home made lotus-leaf rice 荷葉飯

Pity!! We couldn't capture the smell!!

Speeding through Admiralty

Ice cream making class in Grand Hyatt - terribly organized

Home made Osmanthus Jelly 桂花

All the ingredients

Another Citysuper Cooking Competition - Le Creuset Theme

Pan-fried Scallops, Beef-stew with Fried Potatoes and Berry Crumble

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Citysuper Cooking Competition

Mum and dad came home smiling with a set of Victorinox cooking knives on Saturday. Apparently, they joined a cooking competition organized by Citysuper which gave you a budget of HK$500 to buy ingredients of your choice within the Citysuper store. You then prepared, cooked and served the dishes of your choice within 90 minutes. They really enjoyed cooking in the competition and the people were really helpful. Thanks to the organizers and the reporters of the event, we got some photos of their dishes, chicken makhni and chilled pumpkin soup. Maybe dad can learn a thing or two about how professional gourmet photos are taken as well.

Marinating the diced chicken in yogurt and Indian spices

Chilled pumpkin soup - ready to be served

Chicken Makhni - are you ready to dip in?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sony NEX-5 - Dad's new toy (review of sorts)

Mum and dad's love of new gadgets see no bounds. At one point, they owned 3 blenders, 1 food processor and 1 dessert maker at home. Of course the countless generations of iPods, iPhones, stuck somewhere in the bottom corner of a drawer. Until recently these gadgets would just pile up in the house until they discover the power of Asiaxpat where they just keep on selling their off-season gadgets. During the last few days, they have been trying to offload their old digital SLR cameras. They decided that they would no longer use these chunky cameras, after their experience with the new Sony NEX-5.

If you have been reading our blog, you might have noticed that there's a slight change in style for the photos posted. They pre-ordered the NEX-5 prior to official sale and took delivery of the camera about 1 month ago. Since then this camera has been in short supply in Hong Kong and even in a Japan (no stock in Tokyo's Sony shop when Auntie FF checked last week.) There are plenty of professional reviews available online, so we decided to bring you the perspective of a dumb amateur, dad.

To sum up the best thing about this camera - small with decent picture quality even under dim lighting conditions and really good video capture. The worst thing about this camera - the brightly lit LCD screen is the only medium with which you interact with the camera, so the battery runs out of gas if you have a long day of taking pictures ahead of you. The freshly charged battery ran out towards the end of the day when they wanted capture more sunset photos in Lake Mashu after using the camera intensively in Shiretoko which would be hard to imagine with traditional DSLR as you perform all your picture composition on the view-finder which is not battery intensive. Spare battery was not available when they took delivery of the camera but if you intend to travel with the NEX-5, get a spare battery pack.

One of the most respected digital camera review site,, made heavy weather on the way Sony squeezed all the controls into the 3 buttons, jog dial and on-screen menu. It's definitely true that if you are used to the controls on DSLR, NEX-5 controls take some getting used to but it's really not that bad considering how many options and functions they are squeezing into this camera. Of course if you are really professional and need to change settings on the fly, you lost precious few seconds fiddling with the dials and menu. But this is a dumb amateur review.

We like depth of field shown by the pictures that was taken during this trip and this is also highlighted as one of the strengths of the NEX-5.

Contribution from Auntie FF - Ginza Kyubey 銀座 久兵衛
Shiretoko Five Lake 知床五湖

Lake Mashu 摩周湖

Kushiro Shitsugen National Park 釧路湿原国立公園

Furano 富良野

And of course, we like those pictures taken under dim lighting conditions, bearing in mind these are taken without the help of tripods.

Contribution from Auntie FF taken next to Tokyo Tower とうふ屋 うかい
Otaru 小樽

Otaru Canal at night 小樽運河の夜

The panorama function is interesting but it takes a fair amount of practice to get the photo you really desire. Also you need a fairly steady pair of hands in order to minimize artifacts on the resulting pictures. But it's so much easier than painstakingly stitch the pictures yourself. The pan-cake kit fixed focal length lens is not suitable for doing panorama as distortion becomes a huge issue.

Another Auntie FF contribution Tsukiji Market 築地

Lake #1 in Shiretoko Five Lakes 知床五湖

Some artifacts are more obvious than others. Note the jagged water ripples in this picture.

The quality of the video captured is really a bonus. (Please check out youtube links in our other entries.) It's hard to imagine the camera getting any smaller as limited by the physical size of the optics, so improvements will probably come in the form of functions and sensor quality.

With the exception of the panoramas, all the photos were shot under the iA (intelligent Auto-focus) mode.

Update - to see more of the photos taken using NEX-5, please click this tag. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Jozankei 定山渓 - Final stop

Mum and dad did not decide on the final stop of their trip to Hokkaido until the night before going there. With internet connections in almost everywhere, they often decide on where to go and stay on the fly. Jozankei is a famous hot spring area in Hokkaido near Sapporo, so it's a convenient last stop before coming back to Hong Kong.

Stop Press!! - Are you kidding?

Our blog is all about getting a good laugh, so you don't see a lot of postings on current news topics. Then again, hosted by David Webb is normally a forum for dodgy financial dealings; but this is one of those rare occasions which Mr Webb made an exception. See the excerpt from Mr Webb's site on this case:

A niece of a top judge and of a cabinet member received a non-custodial sentence for her third assault on a police officer. The magistrate cited mitigating factors the relevance of which we do not see. Webb-site notes that five weeks earlier, another judicial relative of the cop-slapper upheld a jail sentence on a man with a clean record for the same offence. (4-Aug-2010)

Full details here.

This case is such a farce that the policeman involved publicly cast doubts on the fairness of the judicial system by saying that he wasn't surprised by the light sentence as the rule of law is rigged by the rich and powerful. Guess the attorney general, Mr Wong, should seriously get some work done instead of just raising his arm and shout 起錨, which so many of these supposedly well educated cannot even pronounce properly anyway.

Tokachigawa Onsen 十勝川温泉

Of course we cannot show you pictures inside the hot spring, but we can show you the view from inside. This is without doubt the hot spring with the prettiest view that either mum or dad has been to. The only thing comparable is the sauna and steam room in the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong.

Obihiro 帯広 - don't go if you're on diet

Pictures only!!